Monday, August 10, 2009

That's Great Kid; Don't Get Cocky

I've been sort of pushing my first chapter around into all sorts of configurations for the last month or so, not quite ever getting it to stand up and walk on its own power, because I lacked clarity of vision about both the theme of the book and the protagonist's character arc. I kept changing my mind about something, which made it impossible to move forward. There was a lot of sideways motion, but none of that actually got me past working on the first scene of the book.

Happily, I have sorted all of that out and I have a very clear idea of what I've been trying to do with this guy since I first wrote "Chapter One" on a blank page, lo these many years ago. That may sound odd coming from someone who's already been working with a well-known agent on this book, but I discovered that I had done some literary sleight-of-hand with the story which masked the fact that certain important story elements were either unclear or just missing from the book. Now that I've spent a couple of weeks wrestling with the story in my head, I was able to rework that first scene during lunch today, and it's just fabulous. Suddenly, revising the book is going to be a lot of fun again, instead of a lot of work. So, yay me.

In the vaguest possible terms, I'll explain that I have finally seen the essential irony of the protagonist's journey, and now I can bring that out and the whole story will be a deeper, richer and more interesting experience. Best of all, this won't require the major surgery I was afraid it would take; most of the elements are already there in the prose; I just have to expand a bit here and contract a bit there, and add a couple of lines of dialog in the final chapter. Voila! I'm a supergenius.


  1. Scott, I'm really glad to hear this. It gives me hope for the sludge I'm trudging through at the moment.

    So do I get to read that first part again? *grin*

  2. Is it just me, or does "super genius" make you think of Wile E Coyote?

    Congrats on the epiphany, it's good to see that the insanity of writing has a reachable zenith.

  3. Dear Supergenius,
    I think you should start a column called Dear Supergenius.

    Do you play the violin? Very cool.

  4. Way to go, Scott! Good luck with the rest of the revisions. :)

  5. That's great news! The best part being that revising will be fun and not a chore.

  6. Good news there! Sounds like you've found the holy grail of writing - revisions that are fun. ;)

  7. Michelle: I have reworked the opening scene, and I'll send it to you tonight, barring unforseen circumstances. Hopefully there's enough context now. It was pretty disembodied without the 5000 words that used to come before it. The scene that follows it is pretty cool, too.

    Rick: "super genius" reminded me of a Soul Coffin song. But now I have Wiley E. Coyote in my head. "Super Genius Writing Kit." Ka-boom. But clarity is good. The more we know, the easier it is to write. More on this later. Like tomorrow's Lit Lab.

    Charlie: Oh, the things you don't know about my, yeah. Violin. Right now I'm out of practice, darn it.

    ElanaJ: Thanks! I have high hopes.

    Annie: Yeah, I really look forward to the work now.

    Erin: For the first time, I think, I really see the crucial character elements. I got there by stripping away everything but the central conflict and asking myself hard questions about it. That was painful, but yes, now the revisions are Big Fun(tm).

  8. *waits for chapter to come... a day later...* *sniff*

    I'm assuming unforseen circumstances crept up. :D

  9. Michelle: Oops! Yes, unforseen circumstances, and last night as well (emergency repairs on a gate to keep a cat in the yard, darn her, and then an impromptu viewing of "Serenity" with nachos).